CANINE FUN SPORTS
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[INFORMATION ABOUT THE CFS TRAINING VENUES]
Canine Fun Sports has been teaching agility since 1995. In that time, with our experience as competitors, organisers, judges and instructors, as well as our veterinary background, we have developed a handling system that allows your dog to run at maximum speed and maximum accuracy with minimal chance of injury (either short term or long term injuries). We have many students whose dogs have gained championship titles, masters titles, some have represented NSW in teams events, and many compete at the top level. We also have many students who think they and their dogs are amazing simply because they they developed enough trust in their handler to go through a scary tunnel or over a dog walk.
We continue to keep up to date with world handling trends by attending as many handling seminars as we can, including Stacy Peardot Goudy, Rick Mickalef, Susanne Garrett, Sharon and Amanda Nelson, Greg Derrett, Bud Houston (our first ever overseas seminar), One Mind Dogs, Isabelle Emanuelson and Jouni Orenius. We also keep a keen eye on the literature, DVD’s and on-line information. The greatest influences on our handling style have been from handlers like the late Ronda Carter, Elicia Calhoun, and through her books and videos, Linda Mecklenburg. Isabelle and Jouni have probably been our most evident European influence.
Similar to Linda Mecklenburg’s tools of handling we use a balance of handling cues to give our dogs as much information as early as possible, to let our dogs know when to accelerate, when to decelerate and information about turning. We may use a slightly different emphasis in our handling cues, but we believe it is important that each dog and handler team is helped to develop their own balance of cues. There are no “rules” about handling. We just teach you how to use the best handling tools for your dog and you to communicate.
THE TOOLS WE USE TO GUIDE OUR DOGS ARE:
- The use of hands to give accurate steering, and to switch the dog between obstacle focus and handler focus
- Motion to indicate direction, acceleration and deceleration
- The handler’s position relative to the dog and to the obstacle will influence the dog’s focus and speed
- The use of arms to indicate acceleration, deceleration, and distance the dog should be away from the handler
- The use of shoulders to indicate direction and deceleration
- The use of feet to indicate direction, the importance of foot work in communicating with the dog.
- The use of verbal cues, their use in directional commands and obstacle discrimination and helping the dog to switch between handler focus and obstacle focus.
- The use of eye contact to indicate handler focus or obstacle focus
Our style of handling gives early information to our dogs about when to turn. This means they start to turn on take-off, by shifting their weight as they drive off. This enables our dogs to partly complete their turn in the air. There is less strain on toes and wrist joints when landing and that means less risk of injury and less incidence of arthritis in our dogs in their old age. It also means less
probability of knocked bars.
We have no artificial rules such as “you cannot layer” (an essential tool in open and gamblers agility courses) or “you cannot back jump” (a useful tool in gamblers classes.) Our system allows the handler to change their handling cues and signals which communicates accurately to the dog whether they should take an obstacle or go around it.
The tools and cues in our system are often intuitive for the dog. The dogs have been learning these signals from us since they were puppies; they learnt those movement signals or they got trodden on; they learnt to watch our hands or they missed out on treats, or could not find the ball you just threw for them. Our job is to teach you to use these tools in the correct balance to create fantastic teamwork between you and your dog.
We also emphasise the need to learn independent obstacle performance. This
will give us more “freedom” on the course to use our movement as a cue. It also allows us to work at more of a distance from our dogs and to take advantage of our “send and call” system that gives us that “freedom” I talked about. It also allows some of our more “movement-challenged” handlers to compete successfully without having to slow their dogs down to their own speed.
Our hope is that every student has fun with their dog. We do not aim to make them all winners. Our aim is to help them learn the tools to allow them to compete to the best of the dog and handler’s ability. Some will be winners. Most will improve and enjoy progress through the sport. Above all, we like to see people just enjoy their participation in the sport, and their appreciation of how they and their dog can work as a team. A very strong bond usually develops between an agility dog and their handler and just sometimes you get to feel that buzz, as though there is some mental telepathy happening between you and your dog when the teamwork comes together.
AGILITY IS OUR GAME
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